Kia Australia is enjoying a boom period and looks likely to break into the Australian top 10 for the first time in 2016. Ten months into the year Kia sales are up by 26.9 per cent following on from a 20.5 per cent increase in 2015.
Kia is also closing the big gap that exists between its sales and those of its Korean sibling Hyundai. In 2014 Kia sales were around 28 per cent of Hyundai’s. That now currently sits at nearly 42 per cent.
Earlier this year Kia Australia moved its headquarters to a more upmarket location in northern Sydney which just happens to be about 400 metres away from the Hyundai head office. From where, as Kia’s Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, explained – with tongue firmly in cheek – “we can look down on them.”
There’s no question that the overall quality and design of Kia’s vehicles is right up with the best in the world. Indeed in June this year it became the first non-premium automotive brand to top the US Power Initial Quality Study.
But, according to Damien Meredith, the biggest selling point is the company’s industry-leading seven year / unlimited standard warranty with design next most important and price, originally the number one consideration, now dropping to third.
Mr Meredith expressed surprise that no brands had matched the seven-year coverage, indeed many haven’t budged from the old industry standard of three years and either 100,000 or unlimited kilometres.
Competitors such as Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Renault, have gone to five years while others offer optional extended warranties.
“There’s a huge comfort factor that attracts buyers”, said Mr Meredith. “Parents can buy their daughter a car when she starts university then pass it on to the next child with a long warranty still in place”
The Kia Australia operations chief is predicating a continuation of growth through 2017 with a further 14 per cent increase largely through new model releases, starting with the launch of the latest, fourth-generation, Rio hatch in the first quarter.